November 18, 2008

Minister Announces New Chair and Members of
Memorial University Board of Regents

The Honourable Joan Burke, Minister of Education, announced today the appointment of Robert Simmonds as chair of Memorial University Board of Regents. Mr. Simmonds is a Memorial University alumnus and lawyer, and was appointed as Queen�s Counsel in 2001. He replaces Gil Dalton, whose term as chair concludes on November 21.

Minister Burke also announced today the appointments of Donna Stone, Gilbert Bennett and Jerry Byrne for three year terms on the Board of Regents, as well as Sheila Ashton, who will assume the final year of the term held by Gaylene Buckle.

"Gil Dalton and Gaylene Buckle have provided exemplary service and I thank them for their contributions to the Board of Regents," said Minister Burke. "I am very pleased that Mr. Simmonds has accepted the appointment of chair. His dedication to and enthusiasm for this great institution will provide invaluable leadership as we continue to work with Memorial University, which plays such a vital role in the social and economic life of our province."

Memorial University Board of Regents is responsible for the management, administration and affairs of the university. It comprises a diverse group of individuals representing business, social and educational sectors, as well as students. Minister Burke noted that the board is central to the growth and development of the province�s university, which is the largest in Atlantic Canada.

"Working with the chair and members of the board, government has continued to place a high priority on our post-secondary system," said Minister Burke. "Our goal is to ensure students have the best educational experience possible. Through investments such as the three-year, $90 million White Paper, as well as funding for infrastructure needs and research and development, we are committed to seeing MUN expand."

The White Paper on Public Post-secondary Education recommended a more integrated approach to governance between Memorial University and College of the North Atlantic with three members serving on both the MUN Board of Regents and the College of the North Atlantic Board of Governors. Legislative changes to support this direction were made in 2006. Minister Burke noted today that it is government�s intention to recommend that Donna Stone, Gilbert Bennett and Jerry Byrne, the new members of Memorial University Board of Regents, be put forward to also serve on College of the North Atlantic Board of Governors.

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Media contact:

Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624


Robert Simmonds, Q.C., is an alumnus of Memorial University (B.Comm.) and is the managing partner of the law firm Simmonds Breen Sullivan, specializing in criminal law and litigation. He was a Crown attorney for the Department of Justice from April 1980 to May 1983 and was appointed as Queen�s Counsel in 2001. Mr. Simmonds was awarded the Humanitarian Service Award by the John Howard Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005, and has been awarded the Designation of Best Lawyer in Canada specializing in criminal law edition for the year 2008 and 2009 by The Best Lawyers in Canada � Woodward/White Inc. He is a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland.

Jerry Byrne is an alumnus of Memorial University (B.Eng.) and is currently the president of DFB Group. A true entrepreneur, he was founder of several local companies including SEA Systems and has gained experience in establishing and building companies, both locally and internationally, from the ground up. His business life is extensive and includes forming numerous joint ventures, sales and marketing agreements, manufacturing, distribution and agency agreements. Mr. Byrne is a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Oil and Gas Industries Association.

Donna Stone is the 33rd president of the St. John�s Board of Trade and is an investment advisor with CIBC Wood Gundy. She�s been involved with the CIBC Group of Companies for more than 15 years. Ms. Stone and her husband Eric have four children and one grand-daughter. Ms. Stone enjoys horseback riding, fly fishing and skiing in her spare time. Aside from her duties as Board of Trade president, Ms. Stone has been involved with the Health Care Foundation, the Vera Perlin Society, the Girl Guide movement and the Newfoundland Equestrian Association.

Gilbert Bennett is a Memorial University alumnus (B. Eng.) and is vice-president of the Lower Churchill Development with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro which is responsible for the development of the 2,800-megawatt Lower Churchill hydroelectric resource. He is a former vice-president of 360networks Canada, and has served in a number of senior engineering and operations roles with GT Group Telecom Services, Cable Atlantic and Newfoundland Telephone/Aliant. Mr. Bennett is a member of the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador and is a recipient of numerous academic awards for engineering excellence.

Sheila Ashton is an alumnus of Memorial University (B.A., B.Ed., M.A.) and is a retired teacher. During her career, Ms. Ashton taught students with challenging needs. Outside the classroom, Ms. Ashton helped develop Training for Community Living, and helped develop a program for the provincial Department of Education to enhance students differing abilities. Originally from Deer Lake, Ms. Ashton has also lived in Musgrave Harbour and has called Corner Brook home for the past 26 years. Ms. Ashton is the wife of the late John Ashton, former principal of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.

2008 11 18                                                  4:50 p.m.

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